SICB Annual Meeting 2009
January 3-7, 2009
Boston, MA

Symposium "Hormonal Regulation of Whole-Animal Performance: Implications for Selection"
Organized by: Jerry F. Husak, Duncan J. Irschick, and Ignacio T. Moore

Complementary Session

In addition to the full day symposium, there is a complementary session OPEN TO ALL PRESENTERS with hormone-performance related research. We encourage broad participation in this session, especially graduate and undergraduate students. If interested, be sure to select our symposium under Section F ("Topics of sessions") of the Abstract Submittal Form (


Selection directly operates on the integrated functional output of complex morphological systems; i.e., on whole-animal performance traits. Whole-animal performance is generally defined as the ability of an individual to accomplish some ecologically relevant task. The last twenty years have witnessed an explosion of studies describing the evolutionary significance of performance traits such as running, biting, and swimming, yet general proximate mechanisms underlying such traits remain unclear. While some research has focused on the musculoskeletal and metabolic mechanisms underlying variation in whole-animal performance, the hormonal regulation of functional traits has received less attention. The role of hormones in the expression of a multitude of secondary sexual traits is well known, but there is a lack of knowledge regarding how hormones influence whole-animal performance traits that are important to survival and mating success. This deficit has resulted in a ‘black box’ that has forced numerous researchers to speculatively discount the adaptive nature of whole-animal performance traits, because they may be simply correlated, via hormones, to some other trait that is important to fitness and is therefore the true target of selection. Thus, several important questions remain unanswered: What performance traits, if any, are mediated by hormones? Which hormones influence performance traits, and are these effects consistent across taxa? If there is selection on hormone-mediated performance traits, what are the evolutionary implications for other traits linked to those hormones? What generalizations about hormone-performance relationships can be made across animal taxa? Are there sex differences in hormone regulation of traits? Answering these questions will have a profound impact on how we study the evolution of the phenotype.

Our symposium has three major goals: 1) to assemble a diverse group of international researchers, working on a variety of animal species, to begin an interdisciplinary dialogue about integrating theory and empirical data in the study of hormone-performance relationships; 2) to foster collaborations across taxonomic groups and research approaches in our search for generalities in hormone regulation of performance traits; and 3) to identify major questions that remain unanswered for future researchers to explore.


Jerry F. Husak
Postdoctoral researcher
Department of Biological Sciences
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Duncan J. Irschick
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003

Ignacio T. Moore
Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061

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List of Speakers

S3.1 Sunday, Jan. 4, 08:30 HUSAK, J. F.*; IRSCHICK, D. J.: Hormones as mediators of animal performance

S3.2 Sunday, Jan. 4, 09:00 HAU, M: Hormones and life history evolution

S3.3 Sunday, Jan. 4, 09:30 KETTERSON, E.D.*; ATWELL, J.W: Phenotypic Integration and Independence: Hormones, Performance, and Response to Environmental Change

S3.4 Sunday, Jan. 4, 10:30 LORENZ, M.W.*; GAEDE, G.: The role of insect adipokinetic hormones in locomotion, development and reproduction

S3.5 Sunday, Jan. 4, 11:00 JOHN-ALDER, H.B.*; COX, R.M.; HAENEL, G.J.; SMITH, L.C.: Hormones and Performance: Insights from Natural History and Endocrine Manipulations

S3.6 Sunday, Jan. 4, 11:30 MCCORMICK, Stephen D.: The hormonal control of seawater performance in anadromous fish

S3.7 Sunday, Jan. 4, 13:00 OLIVEIRA, R.F.: Social behaviour in context: how animals adjust their behaviour to the social environment

S3.8 Sunday, Jan. 4, 13:30 MOORE, Ignacio/T*; HOPKINS, William/A: Interactions between hormones and energetics as mediators of performance and reproductive success

S3.9 Sunday, Jan. 4, 14:00 LEARY, C.J.: Hormonal regulation of vocalization in anuran amphibians: insights from toads with alternative mating tactics

S3.10 Sunday, Jan. 4, 14:30 GOYMANN, Wolfgang: Hormones, sex roles, and performance